An Tairseach Dominican Farm and Ecology Centre, Wicklow

An Tairseach 8 by Michael Kelly of the Wicklow TimesSr. Marian O’Sullivan OP provided Eco-Congregation Ireland with this report.  Photo by Michael Kelly of the Wicklow Times >

On Saturday, 23 September, An Tairseach was honoured by a visit from Sr Catherine Brennan, who presented us with a gold award on behalf of Eco-Congregation Ireland. The award ceremony was held in the context of our annual celebration of the Autumn Equinox when we give thanks to Mother Earth for her beauty and bounty which sustains us throughout the year not only physically but also in the depths of our souls.

The ceremony was attended by a large crowd of friends and well-wishers as well as by our twenty-two international sabbatical students form Ireland, England, USA, Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. The first part of the ceremony was held in the garden where we could see, touch and smell the great variety of fruits and vegetables now ripe for harvesting. We then repaired to the Conference Room to the accompaniment of musicians from the Dominican College who share the campus with us.

As the music continued, Sr Colette Kane presented a silent video of the history of An Tairseach from its first tentative steps in 1992 to what it is today. From the time of the decision “to do something” to deciding on what that something would be, took years of consultation and discernment with the local community resulting in a three point plan;

1. To convert the farm to organic production,

2. To plant woodlands and develop other wild-life habitats and

3. To develop an education centre.

Watching the video was a revelation to our visitors and a reminder to ourselves of the long, exciting journey we have been on.

An Tairseach 6Sr Colette then welcomed Sr Catherine and praised the prophetic work of Eco-Congregation Ireland whose ideals we share. In presenting the award Sr Catherine said that An Tairseach was an inspiration to the churches and to the world. She gave credit to the Dominican sisters for their prophetic courage in preserving their land and developing this many-sided project which has been an inspiration to people looking for direction home to who we are, to our responsibility to the poor and to future generations.

Sr Marian O’Sullivan accepted the award on behalf of the Board of Directors of An Tairseach, the staff, the Dominican community and the many friends who have supported us over the past twenty-five years as we struggled to establish the organic farm, the wild-life habitats, the Farm shop and the Ecology Centre which now offers courses to people from all over the English-speaking world. She said the journey had taken us from the notion that we were to care for the Earth to an awareness that we are the Earth which is more than a physical reality. It is also a living, throbbing spiritual reality at whose centre is the being some of us call God.

The award ceremony was followed by a convivial gathering over tea where people from across the globe shared the ties that connect us in one human family and indeed ONE universal reality.